Time to evaluate alfalfa-grass stands

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Ev Thomas, agronomist with the Miner Institute, offers these tips on evaluating alfalfa-grass stands.

“Midsummer is a good time to evaluate alfalfa and alfalfa grass fields and decide which ones need to be rotated (usually to corn) next spring.

“Early in the season the grass in mixed stands can make the alfalfa appear better than it is, and if you wait until fall the large leaflets on fall-grown alfalfa may disguise what's really a sparse stand. By now grass growth has usually slowed down--in the case of timothy, quite possibly stopped entirely--and you can get a better idea of the number and uniformity of alfalfa plants in a field.

“Uniformity of stand is often more important than the number of plants per square foot, since alfalfa responds to reduced plant population by producing more stems per plant. A more reliable predictor of yield is stems per square foot. However, for farmers who have drive-over scales the best way to evaluate forage stands is to measure yield. Measuring second and third cut yields on older alfalfa-grass fields is often a humbling experience, but knowledge is power.”

Source: Miner Institute Farm Report


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